In the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, gun advocates are turning up the heat to suggest if the school’s teachers or principal were armed, they would have been in a position to return fire and possibly prevent the large loss of life. Local Orange County school districts have been dealing with a significant number of calls about security from concerned parents.
In Irvine Unified Schools, there’s a trained and armed police officer at each high school. Due to the neighborhood school policy which places middle schools and elementary schools close to area high schools, these officers can response to trouble in a manner of minutes. In Santa Ana, there are 24 sworn police officers and 38 district safety officers assigned district wide. In Santa Ana, these officers have been responsible for taking away handguns brought to school by students, something that hasn’t happened in Irvine yet but does happen in districts throughout the state. I’ll confess, I had no idea we had an armed police officer on campus. But I’m glad those officers are there.
Some Irvine residents don’t think that’s enough and believe that because the Supreme Court has ruled that gun ownership is a constitutional right, that teachers and administrators ought to pack heat in school. And these Irvine residents are not alone.
Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, wants to lift gun-free zone restrictions on schools. The Libertarian Party has taken the same stance.
“We’ve created a ‘gun-free zone,’ a killing zone, for the sickest criminals on the face of the Earth,” said R. Lee Wrights, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party. “We’ve given them an open killing field, and we’ve made the children of this country the victims.”
From the Libertarian Party’s press release: The Federal Gun Free Schools Zone Act prohibits carrying firearms on school grounds in most cases, effectively criminalizing the right to self-defense in places filled with the most vulnerable citizens. Without that federal prohibition, adults working at the school would have been free to defend themselves, very possibly saving the lives of many of the young children and adults who were slain in this horrific tragedy.
We think that placing more guns in schools’s a terrible idea for a number of reasons. And we’re not alone.
“Our children are safe in school because we have highly competent skilled and vigilant staff collaboratively matched with equally vigilant, competent and practiced IPD staff,” said IUSD board president Gavin Huntley-Fenner. “We also have comprehensive emergency response and lockdown policy and procedures in place. As for the idea of more guns in schools, I think that a terrible idea. I don’t know of a single law enforcement leader in Irvine who would advocate such a deeply misguided and ignorant scheme.”
If you’re a parent of school aged children, think about their first grade and second grade teacher for a second. My kid’s had the same second grade teacher who I know would jump in front of a bus to protect her students (and same ones who came back to see her every open house year after year). But I don’t see her holding a gun much less firing one. Especially as class sizes get bigger. More kids mean more distractions and what if a 2nd grader somehow got access to the gun?
If parents want to expand the presence of trainer and armed school police, they should be prepared to pay for it.
The City of Irvine is going to host a town hall on school safety tomorrow night at Irvine High School. You can find details on the IUSD website.